In the last couple of months, a new virus has swept the planet, infecting nearly 100,000 people so far and killing over 3000 of them. The Coronavirus, or more specifically the new strain Covid-19, is extremely contagious and the current lack of a cure or vaccine has enabled it to spread across the globe, leading to quarantining measures in certain areas.
Unfortunately, its effects are not just felt in the body. The quarantining and safety measures have affected many businesses, factories and more, particularly in China where the outbreak first occured. In fact, NASA images have revealed that the pollution levels in China have drastically fallen, as the lack of people working has greatly lowered the country's emissions. This shows how widespread the effects of Covid-19 are in China, and though some have tried to spin this drop of pollution into an overall positive in regards to the climate crisis, it should be remembered that it's only happened because people's lives could be in immediate danger. If anything, it should be cause for alarm.
The most notable effect on industry has been the collapse of the British budget airline Flybe. Having already been on unstable footing financially, the number of flight cancellations by customers and the lack of people flying due to fear of the virus led to a drastic decrease in income, and it proved to be fatal for the airline. Hundreds of jobs have been lost; it's a tragic end to a popular airline. Covid-19 is killing careers and tourism as well as people.
Inevitably, the music business has also been affected. For health and safety reasons, artists are cancelling tour segments in the far east, as the risk of spreading the disease is far too high. If just one crowd member at that gig has the virus, it could spread directly to hundreds of people in attendance and further on from there. It's absolutely not worth the risk, and the bands will be looking to reschedule their tours as soon as it is deemed safe.
It's not just the far east, either. The Government of France has declared that all indoor events in spaces of over 5000 capacity are to be postponed, with this measure in effect until at least the end of May. This has forced Queen to pull out of their gig in Paris, and many other artists will also have to reschedule. In addition, some festivals have understandably been put on hold, with the UK's Hammerfest no longer going ahead on its original dates. Even events in the USA are being affected, with Ozzy Osbourne pulling out of his appearance at the SXSW event in Texas due to the spread of the virus.
Serious and contagious disease is the arch-nemesis of the tour, and travel in general. One minute you're looking forward to seeing your favourite artist live, the next you learn that they aren't coming - at least, not on the given day.
If you're someone who has been affected the cancellation of a tour and feels frustrated, remember that this is bigger than a gig. Lives are at stake; we are on the cusp of a pandemic and everyone must do their bit to try and stem the flow. This is an annoying - and occasionally deadly - situation that must be approached with patience and care. The majority of us have never experienced a serious outbreak like this before; the closest we've come is playing a Resident Evil game (or Plague Inc.).
In one bit of good news, China has been reporting a slowdown in the number of new cases daily, and we can only hope that containment will soon start to have an effect. Until then, let's all be careful, hygienic, and forgiving when your favourite artists cancel a gig. They'll be back, but safety is paramount.